Fresh off an 8-4 regular season and with a schedule devoid of any big names other than Wisconsin and Nebraska, it stands to reason that Iowa would have the 12th-most expensive median ticket price of all college football teams in 2014. Wait... what?
Indeed, per the fine folks at Vivid Seats, a ticket re-selling website, Iowa is tied with Texas -- that would be the same of Texas that has their very own television network -- for 12th nationally with a median ticket price of $120. Only two Big Ten teams have higher median ticket prices, Ohio State ($211, which is tops nationally, just ahead of Notre Dame) and Nebraska ($140). Per Vivid Seats, the average ticket price for an Iowa game is $145. As a visiting opponent, Iowa's presence increases ticket prices by 35.9% on average; that rate of increase rates smack in the middle of the league (7th) in terms of increase amounts.
It's interesting to think of Iowa as being a relatively "hot ticket," given their current situation. While they were 8-4 in the regular season a year ago (ending the year with a 3-game winning streak that included wins over Michigan and Nebraska), they also ended the season as a whole with a loss, dropping the Outback Bowl to LSU. 8-4 (nor 8-5, for that matter) isn't the sort of record that tends to get media types drowning you in preseason hype or fans dreaming of major bowl trips. To the extent that Iowa is considered a Big Ten contender, much seems to be related to the fact that they have what's perceived as a very easy schedule -- they draw Maryland and Indiana from the Big Ten East, rather than heavyweights like Ohio State or Michigan State (or even the likes of Michigan and Penn State). That easy schedule may be good for wins, but you'd think it would depress Iowa's numbers somewhat in the secondary ticket market.
Except when you break down the schedule you can see why certain games would goose the numbers. Two of Iowa's three home non-conference games are against Iowa State and UNI; two notable in-state rivals. UNI may be an FCS school, but they're also probably the one FCS school in the entire country that Iowa fans would be interested in seeing play Iowa (to say nothing of the UNI fans who are hoping for another chance to add that Iowa scalp to the Iowa State scalps they've claimed in recent years -- and that they very nearly got in 2009). Iowa-Iowa State is a game that has been manna from heaven to the secondary ticket market for years at this point. Two of Iowa's home conference games are against Wisconsin and Nebraska, two border rivals, as well teams with fanbases that travel well and will be apt to try and snap up tickets from any Iowa fans looking to turn a profit on their tickets. Two of Iowa's conference road games also feature opponents that could help goose Iowa's numbers here. Minnesota is yet another border rival as well as an easy trip for Iowa fans in Iowa -- and those Iowa fans are happy to take tickets off the hands of Minnesota fans who don't want them. Maryland is a less-obvious example (what with the basically non-existent history between the two schools), but the D.C. area is loaded with Iowa ex-pats, so there's a good bet that College Park will be full of black and gold (and not just because of all the Maryland state flag imagery sure to be on display then) for that game.
So, yeah, on the surface it certainly raises a few eyebrows to see Iowa's name so high on this particular list, among the likes of Nebraska, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Oregon. But when you dig a little deeper -- and look beyond the fact that Iowa's schedule doesn't feature some prominent brand names -- you can start to see some of the factors at play in driving ticket prices up for Iowa games this year. So open up your wallet if you want to attend an Iowa game this year -- it's probably going to cost you a bit extra.